‘Da-da,’ I would whisper, into her tiny ear. And then again. ‘Da-da.’ It was almost a bit sinister.
I’d say it when something good happened, like when I made her laugh, so she associated my name with good things. It’s also why, when she got upset, I’d pull an angry face and say ‘Ma-ma’ in a low, intimidating voice. (That last bit is a lie.)
Why? Because, out of our three children, it’d be great if Daddy’s girl said ‘Da-da’ as her first word. We can’t remember Isaac’s first word, because it was five years ago and we’ve slept since then (albeit not a lot). Noah’s was ‘cake’, and not a day has passed since when he hasn’t asked for it more than once.
This morning, Jemima said ‘Da-da’.
I heard it, as clear as day. My wife heard it, but refuses to acknowledge it ever happened, like some kind of politician or those idiots who claim the Woolwich killing was some kind of hoax. But I heard it, and I want it in writing so that for all time people will know that Jemima said ‘Da-da’ as her first word.
But then I get told that many babies say ‘Da-da’ as their first word, because apparently it’s easier to say than ‘Ma-ma’. My mum even told me this when I excitedly recounted the tale of that morning, like some kind of wrinkly buzz-kill. (Love you, mum.)
I don’t buy it, though. Say ‘Da-da’ now. Don’t worry if there are people nearby, just do it. Worst comes to the worst, they’ll think you’re on some kind of Skype call and you’re still a bit childish (which you are). Now say ‘Ma-ma’. Oh boy, you do look weird now.
A simple experiment, but one which demonstrates that it clearly takes more effort to say ‘Da-da’ than it does to say ‘Ma-ma’. It requires you to press your tongue against the roof of your mouth twice in quick succession, your tongue prodding the back of your teeth like it’s knocking on a door. When saying ‘Ma-ma’ all you need to do is relax your lips and just open them a bit.
So you lot who reckon ‘Da-da’ is easier to say than ‘Ma-ma’ can take a hike. This morning my daughter said ‘Da-da’ as her first word, and there’s nothing you can say to stop me believing it.